On Thursday 15th June 2017, my beloved grandfather passed away. He was my last remaining grandparent and I am extremely sad that he is gone. At his funeral on Monday 19th, I said a few words in his honour. With my mother’s permission, I have published them below.
Eulogy to Samuel Hutchison
“Rachael – princess of Elsmere Heights, and Andrew, duke of same”.
My grandfather was an incredibly interesting and hilarious man… and sometimes, really rather odd. One day, my mother came home after visiting him and, with a puzzled look on her face, she produced an envelope from granda. Being a child, I was extremely excited to open the envelope, only to discover that granda had cut open a cereal packet and written on the back of it in serial-killer like writing that phrase… “Rachael – princess of Elsmere Heights, and Andrew, duke of same”. He loved us so much that he thought that we were like royalty… at least, that’s my version of it anyway. The peculiarity of it all still makes me smile.
My grandfather had such a wonderful sense of humour. I used to love going to his house when I was a child – just to be around him was such a pleasure. I used to love having a good laugh with him. As he worked in Harland & Wolff shipyard when he was young, I used to always find it funny to ask him what it was like to work on the Titanic. Sometimes, he got the joke and would roar with laughter about it, but he usually didn’t pick up on it at all because he was as deaf as a post but very rarely wore his hearing aid! He would still humour me and laugh anyway, even if he couldn’t work out why we were laughing.
As well as being hilarious, he was also extremely kind-hearted. He was always so good to me. Despite having a bad ankle, he would always take me out on walks just to get out of the house. I’m not sure if this was because he thought it was good to get kids outside for some good clean fun… or if it was to stop me bouncing up and down on his reclining chair that I used to love so much… probably the latter! I loved going out with granda. We would go to the shop down the road from his house and he always told me to pick out a magazine and a sweet. I always picked one of those girlie ones with the free comb on the front and a Crème Egg. I was a bit of an odd child, though – I didn’t like chocolate, and yet I still always picked that Crème Egg because I loved the fondant so much. Granda didn’t know this, until one day, he saw me eating the fondant and then trying to sneak the chocolate in to the bin. Being the sweetheart that he was, he laughed rather than telling me off. I still continued to pick out Crème Eggs. If we weren’t down at the shop, we were at Ballyhack buying meringue nests from Elizabeth’s, much to my mother’s dismay. I loved meringue nests so much and she was worried about my teeth, so put a ban on us going. We still went anyway – sorry mum! When I got a little bit older, I was allowed to go a little bit further than the shop or the bakery with him. Granda used to love going on coach trips. He loved going away on short ventures and seeing as much of the country as he could. I remember going on one with him once to Rathlin Island and having a whale of a time – even though there was pretty much nothing to do there! I just enjoyed being in his company.
Yes, granda was a very kind and caring man – the best grandfather that anyone could hope for. He was always there for me throughout my entire life. When I was a toddler, he would pick me up from nursery and carry me back to his house on his shoulders. Even if it was raining, I would still sit on his shoulders and hold a brolly above both of our heads. When I went to primary school, he would wait for me at the gates. Sadly, I was too big to go on his shoudlers by this point, so I would walk instead. If it was raining, we would walk to our house and if it was sunny, we would walk to his as it was a little further away. When I went to grammar school, it was just around the corner from his house, so I walked to him frequently for a visit at lunch. When I moved to England for university, he would always be asking after me and I always looked forward to coming home and seeing him.
As well as having a fantastic sense of humour and the biggest heart, he was also extremely intelligent. His knowledge of films was unbeatable. Not only did he know everything about the movies of his youth, he could also tell you what was about to come out at the cinema. He also knew who all the current celebrities, actors and politicians were… even if he did have a habit of mispronouncing names. He would call Patsy Kensit, “Patsy KinSET”, and Bairbre de Brun got called, “Barbara Brown”. His response when corrected was, “Well that’s the way I say it!”
The one thing that will always stick in my mind when thinking about Granda is his relentless singing. He used to always have funny little tunes that he would sing at all of us over the years. One song in particular would always raise a smile on his face and on ours. I would always request that he sing “A-round the corner”, which only recently did I learn was a song by Jo Stafford. For many years, I blindly thought that this may have been a song that he made up… well it turns out that that was partially true. Whilst he didn’t write the song, he certainly invented his own lyrics. This song that he would sing on repeat for most of his life? He got the words completely wrong. Every time.
When I think about the fact that I won’t get to see that toothless grin again, or hear his charming version of “A-round the corner” once more, my heart hurts. He was always will be one of my favourite people in the whole world. We are all truly devastated about his passing and will be forever missing him, but we will always have the fond memories and years of laughter to look back on.
So I want to leave you with his version of the lyrics to “A-round the corner”:
“Hey round the corner, hoo hoo, beneath the berry tree. Hey round the footpath, hey round the bush, looking for Henry Lee!”
Rest in peace, Granda. Forever in our hearts.